Monday May 19, 2014 – planning our dinner party…the elusive final ingredients.

Our trip is winding down, and our focus now is on the party we’re having at the mas for Christine and Philippe Theme, and our Boca Raton neighbors, Bill and Lisa LaPato. The menu is set, so we spent much of the day tracking down the ingredients I’ll need to pull it off.

The centerpiece of the dinner will be cote du boeuf (similar to a ribeye) that our butcher in Eygalières has. It’s a beautiful cut of meat that Philippe wants to do on the grille. For appetizers we’ll serve slices of saucisson au Roquefort – pork sausage made with Roquefort cheese. It’s incredibly good, and will set the stage. Then, it will be a Bibb lettuce salad with my homemade Green Goddess dressing to whet the appetite. For side dishes, I’ll be doing carrots glazed in brown sugar simple syrup, and asparagus bundles wrapped with San Daniele prosciutto . Finally, mashed potatoes with ciboulettes (chives) and a touch of local olive oil. Dessert will come from the boulangerie in Orgon, so will be chosen from whatever they have tomorrow.

Our checklist of things we need focused mostly on vegetables – carrots, asparagus, ciboulettes, fresh Bibb lettuce, etc. There also is the matter of the wine. Philippe is bringing something special from his cellar, most likely an older Rhone classic. We asked Bill and Lisa to bring a bottle of Pommery Champagne for an aperitif, and David will be looking for something different for a white.

Off to St. Remy. Figured we’d have lunch somewhere and shop at the fresh produce store. Being Monday, most places were closed, but the reliable old Bistrot les Alpilles was open and warm, so we hopped in. I couldn’t decide between fish and chips or gambas (shrimp), but the manager made the decision for me, telling us that there was no good fresh fish on Monday except a little sea bass, and the salmon. I took the former and David the latter. The food is nice here, but nothing special. We enjoyed a light meal and a bottle of wine, and then headed out to shop.

The first stop was at Joel Durand, the fabulous chocolatier who calls St. Remy home. I purchased a large selection as a gift for the staff at ATMIR in Salon de Provence who always are so wonderful to me. The young lady who served me insisted that we both try a few chocolates, which we did. as always, they are superb.

We then walked down to the Potager de Manon, which usually has the best  produce in town, but were somewhat disappointed in the quality and availability. No Bibb lettuce, and the carrots looked a bit bedraggled. So, we headed down to the other major produce vendor by the round about on the north end of town. The produce was much better here, including the best cherries we’ve seen to date. We picked up all that we needed and headed back to the mas.

We’re busy tomorrow, and Wednesday l’Aubergine is closed, so we decided to go there just for a glass of wine to say goodbye to Alex until October. Sofie and Alex greeted us when we came in, and both were touched that we had made the effort to come by and say goodbye. Alex sat us at a table with our usual bottle of Dalmeran rosé, and then brought out two plates of magnificent appetizers – a truffle risotto, cured ham, gazpacho, and lobster meat with herbs. He said that these were “from his heart,” as we were such good friends. Really nice.

The place started filling, so we finished our wine and headed for the door. Two women who had been sitting next to us asked if we were American, and let us know that they were as well, and were staying down the road at the Mas de la Rose to attend a cooking class at the restaurant. We told them that they had a treat, as the food there is probably the best in the region. Alex’s food and presentation are terrific, and defer to Potager du Mas only in the # of ingredients in each dish and presentation, which is a “more gastronomique” nature.

With kisses and hugs, we bid farewell to Alex and Sofie until October, and headed home to the mas.



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